By Anna Jauhola
The COVID-19 pandemic is slowly making its way toward Kittson County.
Neighboring Roseau County confirmed its first presumptive case of the disease on Monday, April 6. This means the case has not officially been declared positive by the state testing lab. Polk County, of which Crookston is the county seat, also confirmed a positive COVID-19 case over the weekend.
Kittson County still had no positive COVID-19 cases as of Monday afternoon. Cindy Urbaniak, county public health director, said Kittson Healthcare has performed “less than a handful” of tests, all of which have come back negative.
People over the age of 60 and those with chronic health conditions continue to be the most vulnerable to COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus. Twenty-four percent of Kittson County’s residents are over 60 years old.
However, cases are being confirmed in all ages. The person affected in Polk County is in their 30s, according to the Crookston Times newspaper.
“Being across from Grand Forks, it’s not unusual for (Polk) to start seeing cases,” Urbaniak said. “Grand Forks has 11 cases now.”
She added that many healthcare workers, locally and across the state, have been posting on social media the importance of no more social mixing.
“Our nursing home staff and even home health staff included are saying how serious this is, telling people: Stop with social mixing,” Urbaniak said. “The longer we keep doing that, the longer we have to stay at home.”
Minnesota remains under a stay-at-home order per Gov. Tim Walz’s executive order. Minnesotans are to stay home except those who work in essential businesses or organizations, or to purchase essential items.
As Easter approaches on Sunday, April 12, many Christians are preparing for a socially distanced service to celebrate. Sunday, April 5 was Palm Sunday, and a local church planned to hold a parade. Thinking twice about the situation, the pastor asked Urbaniak her opinion. The church did not hold the parade.
“I would discourage any social mixing,” she said. “I don’t want the public to get any mixed messages. I fear that the longer we stay at home, the edgier people will get because people like to be social.”
However, many local churches have already been streaming or recording church services to share with parishoners.
Urbaniak continues to encourage social distancing, people to stay home except to obtain essential items or services, and to keep up good daily hygiene. Hand washing remains key throughout this COVID-19 pandemic, she said. When people do need to go to the grocery store, make sure to use a sanitizing wipe for the cart or basket. Also, make a list to limit your trips to any store.
“We should have a way decreased risk of exposure here, but people still need to stay home,” she said.
By Anna Jauhola